11 a.m.

Lucas signed Rachel's name on the card, but had her scribble across the page.

"It says, 'I love Mommy,'" he says, pointing to the blue lines.

He offers to take Rachel out so Cuddy has a break, but she turns him down.

"Let's stay home," she says. "All of us."

It's cool, but the sun is shining, and Cuddy dresses Rachel in a warm fleece jacket and takes her out into the yard to play. Rachel plucks a red tulip from the garden and a pale purple iris. She holds them in her chubby fist.

"Pretty, Mama," she says. "Pretty."

12:30 p.m.

Cuddy ignores the phone's first ring. Rachel sits in the sun-filled living room with toys scattered around her. Lucas has gone out to pick up what he'll only define as a "surprise."

She lets the Blackberry ring again. It's House's number.

"I need you to do your thing," he says.

She's almost afraid to ask. "Which thing?"

"The thing that makes insurance companies shut up and let me do my job."

"Can't it wait?" She already knows the answer.

"Depends. Are they any better at paying for autopsies than MRIs?"

Cuddy looks over at Rachel. "Give me thirty minutes."

1:15 p.m.

"Behave yourself." Cuddy lets Rachel wriggle down.

"Oh relax," House says. "Let her have some fun."

"I wasn't talking to Rachel."

Rachel heads straight to Taub, who winks at her. Cuddy doesn't know why she's singled him out recently. Two weeks ago, it was Chase. Sooner or later, she'll be at House's side again.

Foreman hands her the chart. She recognizes the name on the form.

"Let me make a call."

Rachel scoots off the chair to hide behind Taub.

"We can watch her," he says.

Cuddy pauses, then nods. It'll be easier to speak her mind if she's alone.

2:10 p.m.

It takes just one call -- and one mention of the hit the company's stock would take if word got out they were trying to ration care and second guess the best diagnostician in the country.

"You wouldn't dare," he sputters.

She doesn't say anything -- she doesn't have to. He's already doing the math in his head. After a few choice words, he gives the authorization.

It's quiet in her office. No one knows she's here. She could get a jump on some paperwork that's due in the morning. In other years, she might have. Now she's got better things waiting.

2:15 p.m.

The conference room is empty, and Cuddy takes a breath before she peers into House's office.

House sits on his lounge chair, his foot up on the stool and a book spread open across his lap.

Rachel sits on the floor beside him, another book on the floor in front of her. Hers is no ancient medical textbook. It's a picture book, and Rachel turns the thick pages. Cuddy makes out the outline of a fuzzy white rabbit and a hard-shelled tortoise.

Cuddy wonders how long House has had the book squirreled away in his shelves, hidden to everyone.

2:20 p.m.

Rachel squeals when she sees Cuddy. She pushes herself onto her feet and runs to her, the book still in her hands.

"A patient left it." House says. "Figured it shouldn't go to waste."

They both know House hasn't had any pediatric patients for months. She scoops up Rachel.

"I charge for babysitting by the hour," House says. "You owe me twenty bucks."

"Put it on my tab."

Cuddy takes the book so Rachel won't drop it.

"Bye bye," Rachel says, and waves as Cuddy takes her into the hall. For a moment, Cuddy thinks she sees House waving back.

3 p.m.

"Crises averted?" Lucas asks.

"For now."

It's Rachel's nap time and she's fallen asleep on the drive. She stirs slightly as Cuddy carries her to her bed, but settles down again with a small yawn.

Rachel's toys are still on the floor, but Lucas stops her when she stoops to pick them up.

"Here," he says, and hands her a gift-wrapped box.

"You didn't have to."

"I know."

Inside is a necklace -- a blue topaz stone in a gold setting. Rachel's birthstone.

"Happy Mother's Day," Lucas pulls her close. "Been a good one so far?"

Cuddy smiles. "Best ever."